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2014 Goldman Prizes Bestowed on 'Fearless' Eco-Activists

Celebrating its 25th year, one of highest honors given to environment defenders announces this year's honorees

- Jon Queally, staff writer

The 2014 Goldman Environmental Award winners from (clock wise from top left): Desmond D'sa, South Africa; Ramesh Agrawal, India; Suren Gazaryan, Russia; Rudi Putra, Indonesia; Helen Holden Slottje, USA; and Ruth Buendia Mestoquiari, Peru. (Images: Goldman Environmental Foundation)This year's recipients of the international Goldman Environmental Awards were announced on Monday, with six individuals from four continents being honored for their "fearless" efforts and working "against all odds to protect the environment and their communities."

“For the past 25 years, the Goldman Environmental Prize has honored heroic grassroots environmentalists for their achievements around the world and this year is no exception,” said David Gordon, executive director of the Goldman Environmental Foundation which bestows the awards. “From fracking to palm oil development, the 2014 Goldman Prize recipients are not only tackling some of the world’s most pressing environmental problems; they are also achieving impressive environmental victories and inspiring others to do the same.”

The winners will each receive $175,000 in cash reward and be honored Monday night in San Francsico. Each winner and the work for which the have now been honored were documented in short videos produced by the award committee:

RAMESH AGRAWAL, India
With a small internet café as his headquarters, Ramesh Agrawal organized villagers to demand their right to information about industrial development projects and succeeded in shutting down one of the largest proposed coal mines in Chhattisgarh:

RUTH BUENDIA MESTOQUIARI, Peru
Overcoming a history of traumatic violence, Ruth Buendía united the Asháninka people in a powerful campaign against large-scale dams that would have once again uprooted indigenous communities still recovering from Peru’s civil war:

DESMOND D’SA , South Africa
Desmond D’Sa rallied south Durban’s diverse and disenfranchised communities to successfully shut down a toxic waste dump that exposed nearby residents to dangerous chemicals and violated their constitutionally protected right to a safe and clean environment:

SUREN GAZARYAN , Russia
An internationally recognized bat expert and zoologist, Suren Gazaryan led multiple campaigns exposing government corruption and illegal use of federally protected forestland along Russia’s Black Sea coast near the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics:

RUDI PUTRA , Indonesia
A biologist by training, Rudi Putra is dismantling illegal palm oil plantations that are causing massive deforestation in northern Sumatra’s Leuser Ecosystem, protecting the habitat of the critically endangered Sumatran rhino:

HELEN HOLDEN SLOTTJE, USA
Using a clause in the state constitution that gives municipalities the right to make local land use decisions, Helen Slottje helped towns across New York defend themselves from oil and gas companies by passing local bans on fracking:

Established in 1989 by late San Francisco civic leaders and philanthropists Richard and Rhoda Goldman, the annual prize winners are selected by an international jury from confidential nominations submitted by a worldwide network of environmental organizations and individuals.

Details of each of the winners and their work is contained in this comprehensive packet (pdf) released by the award committee. Previous winners can be seen on the group's website here

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